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Arpeggio Practice

losthobos

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I've fumbled through life...sometimes it's lessons have been mere bquirks of nature and perhaps others divine intervention.... perhaps discipline may have served me better than passion ..
Anyway I never bothered with scales or arpeggios though I grasp both I got bored of my own ineptitude too quickly..
@JerryPH I'm always impressed by your precision....and @Tom I'm always impressed by your blind passion ...I see a match made in heaven here and I'm gonna enjoy watching this kind experiment unfold...
@Tom ..how about putting a short video of an improvisation (not a tune or you could have just been practicing said tune) from you now and then again in a months time...be real interesting to see what will undoubtedly be a large leap forward given the wing of guidance your under...
Good work dudes....
 

Tom

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I've fumbled through life...sometimes it's lessons have been mere bquirks of nature and perhaps others divine intervention.... perhaps discipline may have served me better than passion ..
Anyway I never bothered with scales or arpeggios though I grasp both I got bored of my own ineptitude too quickly..
@JerryPH I'm always impressed by your precision....and @Tom I'm always impressed by your blind passion ...I see a match made in heaven here and I'm gonna enjoy watching this kind experiment unfold...
@Tom ..how about putting a short video of an improvisation (not a tune or you could have just been practicing said tune) from you now and then again in a months time...be real interesting to see what will undoubtedly be a large leap forward given the wing of guidance your under...
Good work dudes....
Thanks Terry! Hmmmmm, a short video of an improvisation now and then..... Ok, I will have to think about that one....
 

JerryPH

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..how about putting a short video of an improvisation (not a tune or you could have just been practicing said tune) from you now and then again in a months time...be real interesting to see what will undoubtedly be a large leap forward given the wing of guidance your under...
Good work dudes....
Hey Terry! :)
The goal for Tom at this point isn't improvisation, but simply building a base of skills that can be taken and used for his goals. I'm making a short videos of his classes so that he can see his own improvements and evaluate his progress along with a little of my guidance.

His needs stem more in to expanding basic skills, repertoire and later on, public performances of specific styles of music and playing at a higher standard than he is currently at. The thing that makes it interesting is that he's been playing for 10 years and fell in to a bit of a rut, and by applying some of his "grim determination" and a little bit of my direction, I hope to bring him a bit closer to his goals. :)
 

Jim2010

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When it comes to music, there are no rules.
When I wrote previously that there are no rules in music, I didn't mean to give the impression that there weren't excellent guidelines. What prompted me to write was that periodically someone will write to say that they want to "follow the rules" or "break the rules" about something, such as fingering or, in the current case, arpeggios. I don't think it is helpful to think in terms of rules, but rather to think about trying to find the best way for you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. If you are fortunate, you will have the help of good teachers to assist you though the various stages of your development. But either alone or with help, only you can solve all the idiosyncrasies of your physiology, previous musical experience, mental and emotional approach to practicing, your particular instrument, and so on. There no fixed rules for how to do this.

If I were going to make a few rules that everyone was required to follow, they would be along these lines: pay careful attention to what you are doing; before you start practicing, have something specific to work on; go slow enough to make it possible for you to do whatever it is you are trying to do in a relaxed, stress-free manner. There is an analogous saying among runners, triathletes, swimmers, and cyclists—"no junk miles." It means no sloppy, thoughtless "working out," but rather always practicing something—pace, cadence, body position, and so on. The idea is that time spent carefully practicing something will bring greater long-term benefits in a shorter period of time than just thoughtlessly going through the motions.

When it comes to arpeggios, what are we hoping to accomplish? Are we learning our way around the keyboard? Are we trying to develop muscle memory of the chord shapes? Are we training our ears to hear the harmonic relationships? Are we trying to learn to play legato or staccato? Are we building finger strength? Are we learning to play evenly? Are we practicing phrasing?

Let's say you are trying to learn to play cegcegcegc up and down the keyboard for some good reason, but you keep screwing up. Maybe you need to turn the metronome down and play more slowly. If playing slowly seems too boring, why not strengthen your 4 and 5 fingers at the same time by playing something like this:

cegggg cegggg cegggg
or cegege cegege

making up your own fingering to get 4 and 5 into action as much as possible.

"But I don't know the right way to do it?" "How long should I hold the notes?" "Which fingers should I use for the c and the g?" Should I also do it with inversions?

These questions are what I am talking about when I say there are no rules. Just make something up. Don't worry about it. Play it like you are serenading Juliet up there on the balcony. Play like you are in a funny costume trying to make a little kid laugh. You will be better off if you carefully practice whatever you make up than if you don't practice it. And your 4 and 5 fingers will thank you for it later.

What if the next time you attend the accordion rules committee meeting you learn that the guy around the corner made up an even better way to practice arpeggios slowly while strengthening 4 and 5? Great! Start doing it that way.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Work diligently, but at a pace that is reasonable for you. Banish any negative self-talk. Rome wasn't built in a day. Be persistent, but also be patient.
 

Tom

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When I wrote previously that there are no rules in music, I didn't mean to give the impression that there weren't excellent guidelines. What prompted me to write was that periodically someone will write to say that they want to "follow the rules" or "break the rules" about something, such as fingering or, in the current case, arpeggios. I don't think it is helpful to think in terms of rules, but rather to think about trying to find the best way for you to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. If you are fortunate, you will have the help of good teachers to assist you though the various stages of your development. But either alone or with help, only you can solve all the idiosyncrasies of your physiology, previous musical experience, mental and emotional approach to practicing, your particular instrument, and so on. There no fixed rules for how to do this.

If I were going to make a few rules that everyone was required to follow, they would be along these lines: pay careful attention to what you are doing; before you start practicing, have something specific to work on; go slow enough to make it possible for you to do whatever it is you are trying to do in a relaxed, stress-free manner. There is an analogous saying among runners, triathletes, swimmers, and cyclists—"no junk miles." It means no sloppy, thoughtless "working out," but rather always practicing something—pace, cadence, body position, and so on. The idea is that time spent carefully practicing something will bring greater long-term benefits in a shorter period of time than just thoughtlessly going through the motions.

When it comes to arpeggios, what are we hoping to accomplish? Are we learning our way around the keyboard? Are we trying to develop muscle memory of the chord shapes? Are we training our ears to hear the harmonic relationships? Are we trying to learn to play legato or staccato? Are we building finger strength? Are we learning to play evenly? Are we practicing phrasing?

Let's say you are trying to learn to play cegcegcegc up and down the keyboard for some good reason, but you keep screwing up. Maybe you need to turn the metronome down and play more slowly. If playing slowly seems too boring, why not strengthen your 4 and 5 fingers at the same time by playing something like this:

cegggg cegggg cegggg
or cegege cegege

making up your own fingering to get 4 and 5 into action as much as possible.

"But I don't know the right way to do it?" "How long should I hold the notes?" "Which fingers should I use for the c and the g?" Should I also do it with inversions?

These questions are what I am talking about when I say there are no rules. Just make something up. Don't worry about it. Play it like you are serenading Juliet up there on the balcony. Play like you are in a funny costume trying to make a little kid laugh. You will be better off if you carefully practice whatever you make up than if you don't practice it. And your 4 and 5 fingers will thank you for it later.

What if the next time you attend the accordion rules committee meeting you learn that the guy around the corner made up an even better way to practice arpeggios slowly while strengthening 4 and 5? Great! Start doing it that way.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Work diligently, but at a pace that is reasonable for you. Banish any negative self-talk. Rome wasn't built in a day. Be persistent, but also be patient.
Thanks Jim, that's well said and good advice!
 

Tom

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Hey Terry! :)
The goal for Tom at this point isn't improvisation, but simply building a base of skills that can be taken and used for his goals. I'm making a short videos of his classes so that he can see his own improvements and evaluate his progress along with a little of my guidance.

His needs stem more in to expanding basic skills, repertoire and later on, public performances of specific styles of music and playing at a higher standard than he is currently at. The thing that makes it interesting is that he's been playing for 10 years and fell in to a bit of a rut, and by applying some of his "grim determination" and a little bit of my direction, I hope to bring him a bit closer to his goals. :)
Yup, you nailed it Jerry, advice and guidance from you, who are so much more experienced will get me out of this rut. From one week of daily scales and inversion excercises I already feel a better relationship with the keyboard. Sure, they are just a beginning and won't solve all my problems but I do feel they will help the real goals which are different performance opportunities, quicker song learning and retention, and increased musicality.
 

Johnny

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I'm a 'day late and a dollar short' as usual - but I enjoyed reading this discussion! I learned a lot and don't have much to add - except maybe one thing:

Just like when I'm learning a new piece of music, I find it helpful to isolate and fragment the difficult bits of technical exercises, too. For example, I set my metronome and may just practice going between two notes for a while — usually the ones that involve me moving my hand position or making a big leap. Once I master that tricky part, I build out from there by adding more of the arpeggio or scale or whatever. I often end up also inventing/improvising my own little exercises. I try to make these repeatedly hit my weak spot (eg, fingering, position change, leap, etc.). I've attached a little worksheet I made to show this process. Substitute whatever fingering you're using. This works for me, but I'm not evangelizing for any particular approach. It's clear that there are many ways to the top of Mt. Arpeggio. :)

As others suggested here, I've also been practicing starting arpeggios (and scales) from different notes, not just the root. This hurts my brain and has been messy - but when it clicks, it feels liberating and I think it will pay off? someday. Happy practicing everybody!
 

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Waldo

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Ben; What do you mean by +1?

JerryPH; I'm always amused when a response begins with a disclaimer. Unfortunately, no, you didn't understand my post (#11) at all. The first paragraph embodies my question accurately (as does post #1). I don't understand how you came to the conclusions you did, as the 4th paragraph "There is a lot of stuff in music (read: Rules) that is known to work well. In my world, rules are meant to be broken (creativity)," pretty clearly states I don't follow "The Rules", rather I attempt to fill my quiver with options which can be drawn on at will (creativity). Perhaps you haven't read all of my forum posts over the years, but I have elucidated on this point several times.
At 73 years of age, the actuarial charts give me about 11 more years of accordionating. I never have expected to reach your skill level on accordion or your repertoire. I'm less interested in rote learning of songs, and much more interested in learning to improvise within the confines of music theory (hopefully those 2 words won't get me in trouble), so as to be able to "play better with others" (Quote from my 3rd grade teacher on my report card). Fills and background color phrases.
Not having an instructor, or many other musicians to play with (who wants to play with an accordion, anyway), I often fill my time learning tunes I like, hoping to be able to draw from note progressions (riffs) learned (see above sentence).
Regarding your last paragraph, I was referring to the Circle of 5ths chord rotations (thus the use of the Roman Numerals) "Is it acceptable, regarding arpeggios, to move around thru the IV and V chord pitches as well? Or would this be outside the definition of "arpeggio"?", rather than referring to intervals. Perhaps the reference to "pitches" (underlined here) confused you. The word was meant to refer to the pitches found in the IV and V CHORDS, as found, say, in a 12 bar blues rotation. Example: C (C-E-G), F (F-A-C), G (G-B-D), yielding the sequence: C-E-G-F-A-C-G-B-D. And per my question: "Or would this be outside the definition of "arpeggio"?"
Hopefully, you didn't take any this as insulting. And, yes, I'm trying to learn to turn left as well.

Press on....
Waldo
 

Siegmund

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A sequence like C-E-G-F-A-C-G-B-D isn't one arpeggio, but it's perfectly fine to play it and to call it a series of arpeggios (or 'arpeggi', but you never hear anyone use the Italian plural.) If you look at a book that only has scales and arpeggios in it, you probably won't see this; but violinist and pianists (and most other instruments) also spend a lot of time learning etudes. At their worst, these are Hanon style torture; at their best, they are are songs in their own right, designed to reinforce a particular skill.

I have books upon books of violin exercises, and I freely use them as right-hand exercises for the accordion. I find them more stimulating than just playing scales.
Many of these do just what you are talking about -- alternate between 2 or 3 arpeggios repeatedly. I attach two examples.

The first is from Sukuzi Book 1, which I was subjected to when I was about six years old. As a boy I found this the hardest of the 17 pieces in book 1. You'll notice that it is, in effect, alternating G major and D7 arpeggios (with the F# omitted from many of the D7s, because playing F# immediately followed by C, with the same finger on two adjacent strings, is a tricky proposition for a beginner violinist.)

The second is from Jacques Mazas's "75 Melodious and Progressive Studies": this is the sort of thing you're expected to play at breakneck speed when you are 18 and taking private lessons in college.
You'll see a familiar pattern: D arpeggio; a fragment of a scale; A7 arpeggio; fragment of a scale; over and over, but different notes each time. Then it modulates, and we play alternating As and E7s for a while. Then we go back and do some more Ds and A7s. The whole combination isn't exactly "fun" -- but you can pick any 4 consecutive notes out of this, and most sets of 8 consecutive notes from it, and find a simple folk song or fiddle tune that requires that pattern.
 

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Waldo

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Seigmund; Thanks for all that. Due to the lack of CBA instruction on the internet, I often refer to guitar instruction sites and adapt to accordion.
Arpeggi, I like that. Should be additional "i"'s available as well; Glissandi comes to mind.
 

JerryPH

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In my world, rules are meant to be broken (creativity)," pretty clearly states I don't follow "The Rules", rather I attempt to fill my quiver with options which can be drawn on at will (creativity).
When I was at a small demo/seminar where Cory Pesaturo was demonstrating, and he answered that question to perfection. His answer was “how can you break rules that you don”t know?”. He then drove the point home by breaking down the style of a “traditional French waltz style”. The level of detail and understanding was truly impressive, and then after explaining, he went on to create a French waltz that never existed before… right there on the spot and you’d swswear it was written 80 years ago by one of the best in the world.

One cannot do that without rules, without knowledge and practice.

Rule of fifths, near everything you need is pretty much no further than your left hand. Is it acceptable to do variations? Well, let’s put it this way… there are zero reasons to not do it… if that’s what you want, but like most things in life we walk before we run, else we fall a lot and waste time… time that now as you have pointed out, not many of us have. Me included, as I see my playing being a 10th of what it used to be.

You asked about moving to 4ths or 5ths , if that falls outside the definition of an arpeggio. The definition of an arpeggio is “Playing the notes of a chord played in succession, either ascending or descending”. There is no definition of what kind of chord, so…do we have chords that contain more than basic 3 note major chord? Most definitely. I hope that clears things up.

Am I insulted? Most assuredly not and appreciate and respect the response. :)
 

NickC

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One approach to arpeggios is to add patterns and ornamentation.
I like going down a half step and returning to the chord tone: C B C - E Eb E - G Gb G etc.
Or play the next chord tone down. C down to G back up to C - E down to C back up to E - G down to E back up to G, etc.
Or skip chord tones and return down to the next one. C up to G, down to E up to C, down to G up to E, etc

I like arpeggio practice because it is focused practice. It puts us in a different headspace and allows us to focus on more technical things.
 
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NickC

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When I was at a small demo/seminar where Cory Pesaturo was demonstrating, and he answered that question to perfection. His answer was “how can you break rules that you don”t know?”.

We had a debate in college about whether Coltrane could have recorded 'Meditations' without playing standards in his younger days, and what it would sound like if someone tried to play the style without having an extensive background in jazz standards. We even tried it ourselves and the results weren't nearly as good, which wasn't surprising. I actually recorded that session, and about 10 years ago, I transfered it to CD. I'll have to find that one day--oh, and I'll have to find a CD player too.
 

Ben-jammin

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One thing I’ve been focusing on while doing my exercises (arpeggios, scales, and Hannon) is my dynamics. It’s amazing how many different ways you can play the same notes in the same order, if you make it a point to. I’ve noticed that dynamics have been a weakness of mine, tending to just play pretty loud as default. Since I’ve started focusing on dynamics in my exercises (even if I’m slowing down to do so) it’s already having a very positive impact on how I play the real pieces.
 

Ventura

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"the" excercise book is Hanon (originally for piano)
here are 2 versions, the first is arranged by Diero


 

Old squeezer

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I have just bought a chromatic button accordion, C griff. I have been playing piano accordion for years, as well as English concertina and a recent stint on MacCann duet concertina. I'm intermediate at best ('way less on the duet). I'm looking for suggestions or instructions on fingering patterns for the chromatic. I can locate the notes all right, but want to get efficient in playing. It seems some players (and instructors) use the thumb and others not. I've found some videos in French and Spanish; although I can converse in both languages, I find it a bit hard to make out what they are saying.
Any suggestions?
 

JerryPH

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So, and this is a real question, not rhetorical, because I am one of those guys that wants to always know the science behind the task:

How, exactly does this practicing of scales benefit one's musicality? Isn't it the same as learning new tunes for the same amount of time? Will it help you remember your repertoire so you don't "f* up" (to use the non American vernacular ?) in an event?
SO... in the couple months that you have been trying, Tom, what are YOUR personal experiences? How have exercises in general and arpeggios in particular, helping you so far? :)
 
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